MIAMI — Julian Edelman will not return to action Sunday against the Dolphins as the receiver continues to ramp up his activity following a knee procedure, according to a league source.
The defense, however, will be bolstered by the return of Shilique Calhoun, who will be activated after a knee ailment forced a stint on injured reserve that cost him five games.
This will be the eighth straight missed game for Edelman, who was placed on IR Oct. 31 and returned to practice Wednesday, opening his 21-day window to be activated, and has been classified as “day to day” by Bill Belichick.
The 12-year veteran’s return was a boost to offense.
“Jules is a great leader, a lot of energy,’' said left guard Joe Thuney. “So, he’s just a great guy to have back.’'
Though reporters were not allowed to observe practice this week — COVID-19 protocols prevent it at indoor sessions — Edelman was spotted on film released by the club participating in drills and he appeared free, easy, and comfortable.
Edelman has 21 receptions for 315 yards, including eight catches for a career-high 179 yards in the Week 2 loss at Seattle. It’s unclear when he tweaked the knee, but he didn’t catch more than three balls in a game after that performance. Edelman also simultaneously spent time on the reserve/COVID-19 list while on IR. Edelman is under contract for 2021 with a cap hit of approximately $6.6 million.
Even if he’s unable to return this season, Edelman’s presence and professionalism helps sets the tone in the receivers’ room and beyond. A point that was made clear by Jakobi Meyers.
“When I got here, it was definitely Jules for sure,’' he said. “If that’s the best player on your team and you all want to be good players in the NFL, why not follow the standard that was set by the main guy? It was pretty easy for me to just try to see what him and [Matthew Slater] do, pretty much every day, and just try to incorporate it into my own NFL lifestyle.’'
Calhoun, who was used as a situational pass rusher last season, had seen his snaps expand this season and he’s collected 14 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles in eight games.
To make room for Calhoun, the team waived defensive tackle Isaiah Mack.
Harris out against Dolphins
New England will also be without starting tailback Damien Harris, who suffered an ankle injury in practice Wednesday. The club’s leading rusher with 691 yards on 137 totes, Harris took a knee to the back late against the Rams and it was a bit of surprise he wasn’t limited by that injury.
Harris has started the last eight games after missing the first three weeks with a thumb injury suffered late in training camp.
The injury opens the door for Sony Michel, who has recovered from a quadriceps injury and has subbed in the last three weeks. Michel led the Patriots in rushing the last two years.
New England also has James White and rookie J.J. Taylor, who has been nursing a quadriceps injury, at the position.
In addition, Donte Moncrief is out with a thigh injury. He has been the team’s top kick returner, a job that will now fall back to Gunner Olszewski.
Home again for Uche
A trip to South Florida acts as a homecoming for several Patriots, including rookie Josh Uche, who grew up in Miami and saw his first NFL game at Hard Rock Stadium. Now he gets to play in one.
“It’s a great to go back home and have the opportunity to play in front of my family and my friends,’' the linebacker said.
Uche, who said he’s still trying to find his niche in this defense, smiled when asked about working with linebackers coach Jerod Mayo this season.
“It’s just been fun. It’s been great and just having a role model, somebody that I can go back watch their film and actually try to emulate what [he] did,’' said Uche. “Just having someone that can coach you from a players’ perspective has just been very insightful. I’ve been able to learn a lot.’'
Uche said in addition to the learning, there’s been plenty of banter, as well.
“Yeah, he reminds me almost every day he was the first-round pick,’' said Uche, a second-rounder back in April. “He tells us a couple stories here and there. Just tips he can give us that he learned while he was playing. He tries to pass those down onto the linebackers and stuff like that.’'
Warming to their task
Sunday’s forecast is calling for temperatures in the low 80s with a smidge of humidity (sorry) … The last two trips to Hard Rock Stadium were memorable for the Miami Miracle in 2018, when the Dolphins scored on the final play that included a couple laterals, and last year when Antonio Brown scored a touchdown in his lone game as a Patriot (a 43-0 New England win) … The Dolphins elevated WR Isaiah Ford (a short-time Patriot) and tight end Chris Myarick (COVID-19 replacement) to the active roster for Sunday. Starting receivers Jakeem Grant (hamstring) and DeVante Parker (hamstring) and starting tight end Mike Gesicki (shoulder) were limited in practice during the week.